The field of dietetics is becoming extremely important with the rise in obesity and other chronic diseases associated with obesity in the United States, such as diabetes and heart disease. A dietitian’s role is crucial in helping individuals with a variety of problems and diseases eat in a manner that produces the healthiest results. Dietitians may work in a wide variety of settings from hospitals to cardiac rehab centers and even eating disorder clinics. Let’s explore this exciting profession further.
What are some of the main responsibilities of a dietitian?
There are a variety of employment settings dietitians may work in and their role will vary accordingly. The clinical dietitian’s role is mainly nutrition screening, nutrition assessments, and patient education. Nutrition screenings look at the following factors: gender, age, height, weight, body mass index (BMI), diet, appetite, allergies, albumin, diagnosis/condition, and skin condition. Nutrition assessments look at the same items as the nutrition screenings plus lab values, medications, past medical history, and calculation of calorie, protein and fluid requirements. During nutrition assessments a care plan is established along with interventions such as nutrition education, change in diet, and the addition of nutrition supplements. Other tasks of a dietician include reviewing and interpreting patient lab values, documenting after each patient session, reading and analyzing patient histories (family, medical, dietary, etc).
Clinics and hospitals are the main employer for dietitians. Dietitians can work with inpatients or outpatients in a hospital setting. At larger hospitals there may be dietitians assigned specifically to just the in patient population and others who w
In terms of parenteral feedings, an example might be a trauma or burn patient who is unconscious and on a ventilator; unable to eat by mouth. The dietitian will calculate the amount of glucose, amino acids, and lipids needing to be fed through the vein to maintain the patient’s nutrition status until they are able to eat normally again.